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[1999-01-24-WWF-Royal Rumble] Mankind vs The Rock ('I Quit')

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Rock's pre-match promo is delivered with great enthusiasm, but is nothing at all but strung-together catchphrases. This match is really good at times, more so than I remembered. I like the intensity, even though I hate lots of other stuff about it. I guess Rock getting babyfaced was unavoidable by this time, but they definitely did things that would make him get cheered over Foley here. I remember also thinking less of Rock at the time since Foley was the one who took all the big bumps, but I don't see it that way this time. The chairshots are the big thing this is remembered for, and it definitely went too far. The electrified bump Foley took was something I wish they'd avoided since it wasn't even the finish. In fact, the finish was an obvious screwjob playing a tape of what Mankind said earlier in the evening in his Heat interview, and that makes you wonder why the Corporation didn't just play that the very first time Rock held the mic to his face. The answer is "so they could have a complete match, of course", which means it was a bad idea for a screwjob. A better screwjob would have been "The Rock quits" since he can only speak in third person with the finish being disputed because The Rock never said "I". I liked Rock's intensity and thought the opening minutes, which were more basic, was much better than the overdone stuff as the match climaxed. And "Stop the damn match" means something coming from Jim Ross, but the insincere Michael Cole saying it is embarrassing. So I'd call this a disappointing match overall, despite both guys working hard and Rock showing in some ways that he was coming along as a worker.

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Awful massacre of a match, ending with a screwjob no less. I hated, hated the Rock at this point. I didn't realize Foley was as much if not more to blame. The chairshots barrage is also basically the reenactment of a match between Cactus Jack and Shane Douglas. So much for ECW not being an influence at all.

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I actually liked this match quite a bit. It packed in a lot of stuff with lots of bells and whistles and stayed entertaining throughout. The chairshots at the end are just horrific though. But for better or for worse (well, for worse) they go toward making this an instantly memorable match. This is the kind of match where if you didn't see the PPV and saw some of the highlights and reactions on RAW the next night you really felt like you missed out on something big. Aside from the chairshots at the end being totally irresponsible I don't have any complaints about this at all really.

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Rock looked just massive here. Almost as big as he was in 2012. This was hard to watch but I thought there was actually more chairshots than it seemed. The one where he hits him in the back of the head was just brutal. I hated the finish at the time.

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The chairshots are what they are. An unfortunate even that we know too much detail about. That being said, I was shocked at how much I liked the match surrounding it. The gimmick does have a hole in it as Loss mentions but Rock really took some steps here in being a ring general in my opinion and had a presence from his strikes to his commentary mid match. The big bumps were mixed around that the match was crafted to become memorable. I have been waiting on these two to have this good of a match and this is their pinnacle so far. ***3/4

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The microphone allowed both guys to throw shade when they were attempting to submit each other. This is pretty much your standard Attitude Era brawl throughout the arena. However things get serious when the two are fighting on the balcony and Mankind takes a nasty fall onto electrical equipment, sending sparks everywhere and temporarily cutting the lights in the arena. It's a nice visual. Rock then puts Foley in handcuffs and starts stomping away at him. Mankind tries to get back at him with whatever he can muster. He kicks, headbutts and bites The Rock. Mankind drops a knee on The Rock's groin, making the entire crowd wince. Then it's time for the unprotected chairshots. God, this is hard to watch in a post-Benoit world, but you can't deny it created drama. 1999 WWF isn't known for it's high work-rate, so I think you're are going to struggle to name a better match that's not the tag ladder match at No Mercy and maybe Rock/Austin at WrestleMania from this year.

 

★★★¾

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I'll allow the delay in playing the recording, since a.) Rock wanted to settle a personal grudge with Mankind by inflicting punishment on him first, and b.) you could argue that the Corporation thought they were being clever in delaying it so that they wouldn't blow their cover, even though their scheme was blown the next night on Raw anyway. I actually had a bigger problem with Rock climbing up to the platform for no real reason other than to set up the big bump into the electrical panels--not a terrible idea for a big spot, but the set-up beforehand was contrived and it's forgotten about 5 minutes after it happens.

 

As for the match...as work, especially before the brawl to the back of the arena, it's pretty good--by 1999 WWF standards, maybe even great. Mankind's mini-comeback while handcuffed is well-done also. As theater, I can't say it wasn't engrossing. As a heated hate-filled grudge, I have to say both guys put across their agendas well, separating this from some other late-'90s exercises in brutality and gore. The chairshots were icky to watch even for me live at the time and it's certainly gotten worse since then. I can't excuse it other than to say that it was a means to an end in pushing this feud to another level and that it was compelling to watch in a sick sort of way. We'll see if this holds up as the WWF MOTY--there won't be a ton of competition, but there's still two Austin/Rock matches and the No Mercy ladder match that I'm pretty sure I've never actually seen before.

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WWF World Heavyweight Champion ManKind vs The Rock - WWF Royal Rumble 1999 I Quit Match

This was the my WWF PPV we ever bought and what a shitshow it was before this match! The Rock was so much cooler in 1999 than he is now. I love this feud. What a natural pairing the cocky jock vs. loveable loser and love it eventually morphed into the Rock N Sock Connection. These two were made for each other. 

I am going to do this review backwards. The screwjob finish is about the only way out unless you want to completely shatter a heel's credibility. Theres no way you can have a babyface say I Quit. So why not just play the tape of Foley saying I Quit at the beginning of the match. Well, there was a lot of enmity between the two. The Rock really did hate Foley at the time so you think he would want to dish out some pain after being humiliated earlier in the month losing to Foley. I'll give them a pass on the finish. I think was serviceable and what needed to be done. 

Now the chairshots. They were brutal and plentiful. I lost count. It is definitely one of the more brutal things you will ever see in wrestling. To have his kids front row for Mick Foley's Masochistic Theatre of Pain is weird. I have never read his book. I think I listened to him once on Austin's podcast, but I kinda forget the deal. I think he had a shoot grudge with The Rock afterwards. I have a hard time believing The Rock went into business for himself. It just seems very much in Foley's nature to invite this level of sick pain. It is definitely one of the nastier ways to end a match. 

Now the electrocution bump. Horrible setup. The Rock just climbing up there for no reason. Foley takes the bump, sparks fly. Cool bump and the lights go out. Shane-O Mac sells it by coming out to stop the match. The Rock gets all indignant that he is going to make his fat ass say I Quit. I liked the People's Elbow on the chair. The ballshots were great hope spots in the handcuffs.  

Everything before Foley Masochistic Theatre of Pain (electrocution bump and chairshots) was awesome! Like they were well on their way to a classic. Great babyface shine. Foley was rocking. Rocky was bumping. I loved stuff like Rock whipping Foley into the steps for his first bit of offense after the Mankind onslaught, he gets cocky and starts jaw-jacking on commentary. Foley attacks him. Rocky had only hit one move. He had NOT cemented advantage and he paid for it. Great stuff! Loved the Double Arm DDT and Mr. Socko early. Great climatic way to end the shine. It is definitely in Foley's nature to want more pain. He lives for pain and it is not enough. The Rock's heat segment was entertaining as hell. Ringing the bell in the ear, singing a little bit, Evian Spew on Foley. Then Foley's hot comeback which leads to the electrocution bump. 

Great, hate-filled beginning, terrible setup for the big bump, good stuff directly after the big bump, sick, self-indulgent Foley's Theatre of pain is way too much and the screwjob finish is serviceable. Overall I think this is WWF MOTY for 1999 (terrible year) and still a really interesting match to watch. ****1/4

 

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One of the best matches of this stipulation. Call backs to previous matches, some fantastic brawling. Some truly great character work by The Rock and Mankind. The Rock totally playing up being arrogant, cocky but most importantly vicious. He was ruthless the entire match. Mankind's bumping was incredible, so sympathetic throughout the match, being resilient, keep coming back for more and more. The Rock took a few liberties but it added so much to the match. Great ending too. Cole gets criticised around this time but his commentary was excellent here. One of the best matches of the AE. Another Foley classic. ****3/4

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Rewatched this a few hours ago and honestly think it's an all time great WWF Title match. Before the match, Rock does a promo literally just running through his catchphrases. It's not bad but it's really not near his best work on the mic, either. There's a real palpable sense of hatred and contempt from both guys and Rocky in particular is absolutely vicious in this match. This is very much Rock's match but Mankind is great early on. I think the bump off the stage onto the "electrical boxes" is really corny and I thought that when I was like 8, but it's at least a creative spot and I'll give them points for that. The chair shots are what they are, but to me they complete the package. Anything less and Rocky doesn't come out of this looking like a cold-hearted son of a bitch. Anything less and Foley isn't nearly as sympathetic. This is as good as the "WWF tries to be ECW" stuff gets and damn near as good as the WWF gets in general. I never expect to come away from anything that happened in 1999 with a feeling that I'd just watched an all timer, but on my last two rewatches of this match that's exactly what I felt when the deal was done. Just a fantastic, brutal, violent battle. *****

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While this isn't Michael Cole at his worst, this match would have benefitted from Jim Ross on commentary. It's a small nitpick though for such a great, memorable match. No one but Mick Foley could have had this match and while that's one hell of a compliment for any wrestler, I'm glad we'll never have matches like this again. It's simply too brutal. That said, one of my favorite spots is the Spanish announce table crumbling before Rock can do the Rock Bottom.

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